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Big changes to American Express Platinum on the way (including a metal card and higher fee!)

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American Express is planning yet more changes to its UK card portfolio, this time on The Platinum CardFor once, you are getting four weeks notice of what is going to happen.

Whether you are a cardholder or just a potential cardholder, you have time to make your plans accordingly.

Here is the news in a nutshell:

The Platinum Card will be made from metal, not plastic – see the image below

The annual fee increases from £450 to £575, albeit with some modest improvements in benefits

The spend required to earn the 30,000 points sign-up bonus is doubling

The new fee and benefits come into effect from 11th June for new cardholders.  Existing cardholders will receive the new benefits from 11th June and will be charged the higher fee on their next renewal after 1st August.

New UK American Express Platinum metal card

Let’s look at the new package in detail:

A new Platinum card, made from metal

American Express launched a metal version of The Platinum Card in the US in 2017 and has been slowly rolling it out since.  Arguably they have missed the boat in the UK, since Curve, N26 (N26 Metal reviewed here) and Revolut (Revolut Metal reviewed here) have all launched in the last six months.

I have been using a metal Curve card for a few months.  They are surprisingly heavy and fall out of your wallet easily.  The good news is that I have never had a problem using it in a card terminal or ATM.

New cardholders from 11th June will receive a metal card automatically.  Existing cardholders will receive one when their current card expires.  If that is a long way away, I imagine that if you call after 11th June to say that you have lost your card, the replacement may well be metal …..

Platinum supplementary cards will also be issued in metal.

Looking at the image above, I image that – like Curve – your name, card number and expiry date will be printed on the back of the card to make the front look more stylish.

An increased fee, from £450 to £575

Existing cardholders will be billed £575 from their next renewal after 1st August.  New cardholders will pay £575 from 11th June.

If you apply before 11th June you will pay the existing £450 for the first year.

Additional Platinum supplementary cards go up from £170 to £285

Additional Platinum supplementary cards after the first free one will be charged at £285 instead of £170.

Whilst this is a sharp jump, the current £170 fee for additional Platinum supplementary cards is ludicrously cheap.  You can basically give someone full Priority Pass membership (admits two), Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade, Melia Rewards Gold, Eurostar lounge access, full travel insurance etc for £170 per year.  It is exceptional value and couldn’t last.

Additional supplementary cards issued as Gold cards will continue to be free but will continue to not have any benefits except for being covered by The Platinum Card travel insurance.

A sharp jump in the spend needed to trigger the sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is a generous 30,000 Membership Rewards points.  This converts into 30,000 Avios or various other airline and hotel schemes.  Airline transfer rates are 1:1.  The hotel transfer rates are 1:2 into Hilton, 2:3 into Marriott and 1:3 into Radisson.  You can also convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar.  You can see the partner list on the Membership Rewards site here.

From 11th June, new applicants will need to spend £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus.  This is a sharp increase on the current £2,000.  You should apply before 11th June if £4,000 would be a stretch.

£10 per month of Addison Lee credit

Cardholders will receive £10 cashback per month on Addison Lee taxi rides charged to their card.  This does not accumulate if unused in any particular month.

If you use this, you will save £120 per year which offsets the fee increase.  This is fairly easy if you live in London but far more difficult if you don’t.

This benefit is only available to the primary cardholder and not to the Platinum supplementary cardholder.  The annual benefit is therefore capped at £120.

$200 credit on EVERY onefinestay house rental

This is potentially very interesting.  You will get $200 cashback each time you spend $200 or local currency equivalent on The Platinum Card on a onefinestay house or apartment rental.

(Rentals in the UK receive £150 cashback on stays of £150+.  Rentals in the Eurozone receive €170 cashback on stays on €170+.)

I thought this would come with a catch, but it doesn’t.  I have spoken to Amex and you will get the cashback on each and every booking.  The nearest thing to a ‘gotcha’ is that you must opt-in to this benefit via the American Express website when it goes live on 11th June.  If you forget to opt in, you won’t receive your cashback.

The only snag is with onefinestay itself.  Most of their houses require a three night minimum stays – not all of them, but most.  Looking at a low cost country such as Thailand, the cheapest place I could find is $185 per night in Koh Samui with a three night minimum.  The cheapest with a two night minimum is $450 per night – although you are, of course, getting a monumentally large Koh Samui villa for this!  If you think that you will be able to book yourself a cheap $200 property and essentially pay nothing due to the $200 cashback, you will be disappointed.

Other new benefits that I won’t insult your intelligence with by pretending they are useful

You will be able to book American Express restaurant partners via the Amex app instead of calling (some of these deals are OK, to be fair, and offer benefits such as a free glass of champagne to cardholders)

You will be able to message American Express from inside the Amex app

You will be able to use the American Express Centurion Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 when it opens later this year (I have no doubt that this will be an excellent lounge – Centurion Lounges have a great reputation – but Platinum cardholders would have got access anyway and there are already two good Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 3.  There is nothing new about this.)

Conclusion

For existing Platinum cardholders, the key question is whether you can easily use the monthly Addison Lee credit.

If you will, the increase in annual fee is offset and you are in a similar position to where you are today.  If you can’t use the Addison Lee credit, you are facing a £125 fee increase with very little in return, unless you become a heavy onefinestay user.

For potential new Platinum cardholders, the increase in target spend to £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus could be a deal-breaker.  I strongly recommend applying before 11th June to lock in the existing £2,000 spending target if you can.  You can apply here – note that the website will not be updated with the new details until 11th June.

(As a reminder, you qualify for the 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus if you have not had any card which earns Membership Rewards points – ie Gold, Green, Platinum, Centurion or the Amex Rewards Credit Card – in the past 24 months.)

In general, you need to look at The Platinum Card like an iPhone.  You could, in theory, save a lot of money by scrapping your iPhone and buying a torch, alarm clock, Chromebook, portable hi-fi, calculator, stopwatch and a non-smartphone separately.  Most people don’t.

Similarly, you could drop your Platinum card and:

pay for travel insurance for your entire family and the families of five random people you would otherwise give a supplementary card

pay for car hire insurance when you rent (although insurance4carhire will sell you an annual policy cheaply)

pay for airport lounge access, potentially via a Priority Pass (or buy pricier tickets which include it)

pay more for luxury hotels rather than using Fine Hotels & Resorts (admittedly you can book many FHR properties with similar benefits via our hotel partner Bon Vivant)

pay more for Eurostar tickets to get lounge access via your ticket type

pay for better quality rooms and breakfast at Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, Melia and Shangri-La hotels instead of relying on your status benefits 

pay for an ice scraper for your car rather than using the new metal Platinum card

etc etc.  You need to do the maths based on your own personal circumstances.

Should I apply for The Platinum Card NOW to lock in the £2,000 bonus spend target and the £450 fee?

Probably.  You will get a better deal than usual, because you will only pay £450 but will earn 11 x £10 Addison Lee credits before your first renewal at the higher rate.

Wait until tomorrow, however, when I will run a full article on what The Platinum Card gets you.

The Platinum Card website is here if you want to apply or find out more, although the benefits I describe above will not be shown until 11th June.

Comments (674)

  • Eight says:

    Any existing Amex gold charge card holders tried to upgrade to plat using that generic gold to plat link in the past few weeks? I tried yesterday and it said no (even though when logging in, it became “personalised”)… But then, when I rang up just now to ask why, they said they hadn’t even received an application from me!

  • MoJack says:

    Advice Please, now that plat is not much of an option, What would be the cheapest way to get reg lounge access for a frequent flyer?

    • John says:

      Earn status in the ffp of your preferred airline;

      Only purchase tickets in business/ premium class or higher

      • Rob says:

        Indeed. Spend £1,000 on a cheap Qatar Airways ticket from Europe to Asia, get yourself 560 tier points and you’ve basically got BA Silver for up to 27 months depending on when in your membership year you trigger it. Sorted.

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Not a very useful suggestion unless you live in London , PP has been very useful for our short haul hops from the regions , long haul is J anyway so no need for status,excepting the disgraceful BA seat fees to non status pax

          • TigerTanaka says:

            Qatar fly from EDI, BHX, CWL and MAN as well as LHR & LGW. I know the points/loyalty game feels very London centric sometimes but I think Rob’s suggestion was fair.

          • tom1 says:

            I think YF’s point is that BA silver isn’t much use when flying from anywhere other than London… ? The only time I fly BA is when I’m using a biz class redemption, in which case I get lounge access anyway – I guess seat reservations are valuable currently, but even they will become less valuable when club suites are rolled out.

        • kk says:

          Rob, what would be the optimal time to earn the remaining 40 points in order to get 27 months of BA Silver?

          • Polly says:

            As close to the beginning of your card year, that’s if you have already earned the 560 TPS. And you get the extra couple of months at the end of your 2nd card year.

          • kk says:

            Thank you, Polly!

          • Rob says:

            You want to earn the full 600 points inc 4 BA segments as early in your membership year as possible.

            If your tier point year starts 8th June and you earn the 600 TP’s very soon after 8th June 2019, your Silver card would last:
            * rest of your current year to 7 June 2020
            * all of the next year to 7 June 2021
            * plus the three months grace period at the end until (probably) 31 August 2021

    • Joe says:

      HSBC Premier WE card

    • Shoestring says:

      Just buy the 10-shot Priority Pass on Black Friday with the extra 10% discount = £12.50 per lounge pass

      downside being you can’t use it for guests

      • Rui N. says:

        Yeah, I was very tempted for the 10 entries for £170. Then I realised guests pay another £20. Not worth it. Price of a meal in the airport that way and I get more choice.

      • Lady London says:

        They have really hiked the price of the top level one though.

    • Polly says:

      Or just buy a PP membership.

  • Adam says:

    Another thing that annoys me is that the UK card seems to be the least generous with bonuses on transfers as well.

    Have seen transfers advertised on US and Euro cards (To Hilton and Avios respectively) but never see any for the UK.

  • Simon Schus says:

    Boo. My annual fee renewal is August 4th. I’ve only been keeping the card for the Priority Pass and AMEX travel credits.

    • Lady London says:

      You do have just enough time to cancel and reapply though. If toute really really quick you light get an application in for June 10th which should make your new card qualify for current cost. No new signup bonus but who cartes?

  • Mr Entitled says:

    Think I am about 22mths away from applying. Conversely the increase in fee, with no practical benefit to me, just makes churning more likely.

    A lot can happen in 22mths mind. I part expect this to be the low point, with something genuinely positive to occur at some point. The more who cancel citing the changes, the more likely this becomes. In the interim, I am quite happy on the Amex sidelines.

  • Doug M says:

    Have to add me to the list of people that don’t think it’s worth it anymore. AddLee credit is a non starter, and I live in London. Hotel status useful but not essential, lounge access likewise, but far to here and there to make a difference. The big failure is it’s without doubt the most useless Amex to spend on, so you always need another anyway. Keeping SPG for as long as it lasts and Gold until the fee is due. Amex seem to be positioning themselves to have a drastically reduced customer base, maybe more profitable for them, but will impact use and therefore acceptability.

  • Toppcat says:

    Just called to cancel off the back of these changes (I was thinking about it anyway) and was offered 2MR/£ for the next 3 months, which seems to be broadly in line with what I have seen other people discussing on here.

    I also spoke to the CSA at length about the new fee/benefits, and how it compares to my other cards/bank accounts (HSBC WE in particular) – they do seem to be collating feedback. Ultimately, I’m struggling to see a scenario where I keep the card live once the next 3 months is up

    • PhD says:

      Amex doesn’t care about the UK market. Simple as that, so they’re not going to note your feedback.

      • S says:

        Then why facelift the card at all?

        • BillyBass says:

          This isn’t a facelift. As for the metal card that’s to do with branding, all Platinum cards are being (albeit slowly) replaced with the metal/info on back design.

    • Lady London says:

      @Toppcat why did you just not cancel anyway. You could always have a rethink in first week if June and apply again giving you current price for one more year?

      Plus its good if releasing it to important blogs gets Amex the feedback they néed…

  • Mike says:

    I think AMEX should be increasing their offer rather their price and bring the UK Plat into line with the US Plat or US International Plat Currency Card which seems to offer much better value. There does seem to be quite a difference in value for money between the two:

    UK: £575 fee, Each Additional Card (beyond 1st free) £285

    – 30k signup bonus on £4000 spend
    – 12 MR per referral
    – £120 Addisson Lee credit per year
    – $200 onefinestay credit per booking

    US: £420 fee, Additional Card £134 for up to 3 Additional Cards. The annual fee for the 4th or more additional cards is £134 for each Card.

    – Nil foreign transaction charges
    – 60k signup bonus on £3800 spend on occasion raising to 75 K (non targeted) / 100K (targeted)
    – 15K MR per referral
    – $200 airline credit per year
    – $15 uber credit per month Plus $20 bonus each Dec
    – 5 x MR points per $1 (£0.77) spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
    – 5 x MR points per $1 (£0.77) on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com
    – $100 credit for Global entry Scheme
    – Premium Roadside Assistance: 4 x Free Callouts a year.
    – $100 statement credit to Saks

    • TGLoyalty says:

      2 MR = 1 Avios in the USA

      Still better than UK in some cases and I’m really surprised there is no increase in earning rates.